Center for Nonprofit Excellence
LEAD Institute

LEAD Institute


LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Institute is a year-long leadership development program for nonprofit managers aspiring to greater leadership. LEAD serves the diverse communities of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Since it began in 2009, nearly 200 leaders have completed the program.

LEAD Institute

Applications for LEAD Institute 2025 applications will be available in Summer 2024.

Values & Commitments

LEAD Institute is committed to building an inclusive and equitable teaching community where LEADers identify core values, share resources, and cultivate a supportive network for leadership growth and mission impact. 

LEADers commit to ten intensive, day-long monthly seminars for leadership growth and reflection at the beautiful Harden Foundation in Salinas, and experience six months of individualized, one-on-one coaching with a professional coach. 


100% of LEAD Institute grads (2023) feel somewhat or to a great degree prepared for greater leadership responsibility.

LEAD can help you thrive:

  • Identify your core values and connect with a diverse and inspiring peer network. 
  • Learn from experts in our community and explore topics related to power, collaboration, and justice. 
  • Develop nonprofit management skills and better understand how organizations function. 
  • Grow your mission impact and work for change. 

As a new leader stepping into a big role, LEAD provided me with a space to be vulnerable with my peers and hear their stories. I met amazing individuals whose experiences and strengths inspired me to grow into a more confident leader. The engaging speakers LEAD brought in to teach us energized me after each session to share what I had learned with leadership staff in my organization and has ultimately helped us move forward as emerging leaders. Thank you for a wonderful year!” Stacie Andrews, The Village Project, Inc.

Why LEAD? –  for Your Organization

  • Make an organizational investment in your great staff and empower their growth. 
  • Meet new partners and build support networks. 
  • Build capacity in key areas including empowering a strong team, communication, delegating, greater confidence in networking, and more.

Through LEAD Institute, we saw a team member’s confidence in her own ability and skill grow. Already a natural and effective leader, LEAD gave her the concrete tools to take on a larger leadership role within LFC.”
Gabriela López Chávez, Executive Director, LFC

Partners, Presenters and Coaches

The Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and the Community Foundation for San Benito County partner with the Community Foundation for Monterey County to ensure strong participation from all three counties.

Recent presenters with expertise in nonprofit management and leadership development have included LEAD Alumni Hana Kong and ileana Ortega Brunetti, Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz, G. Luca Oake, Sharon Papo, Catherine Hambley, Steve Dennis, plus CNE staff Reid Norris and Susie Polnaszek.

Thank you to our 2023 LEAD coaches: Anne Auburn, Jennifer Britton, Tobi Marcus, Angela Lopez, Clare Mounteer, Arne Croce, Sorby Grant, Marie Earl, Christine Silver, Emma Pineda Fortin, Michelle Slade, Grace Hammond, Daniela Bryan, Robert Freiri, and Marisa Singer 


2024 LEAD Institute

LEAD 2023 Cohort

LEAD is an intensive learning experience, and support from your nonprofit or community-based organization and supervisors is essential. In community, LEADers develop knowledge, skills, confidence and readiness to make a strong contribution to mission impact and organizational success.

Key Coursework

LEADers explore:

  • Personal strengths and opportunities to grow
  • Values and vision clarity
  • Leadership lineage – on who’s shoulders are you standing?
  • Inclusive power
  • Peer coaching and feedback
  • Equity, justice and community resources

Additional topics include:

  • Strategy and goal setting: identifying and measuring what’s most important
  • Nonprofit financial management and fund development
  • Boards, governance and the unique aspects of nonprofit management
  • Effective communication
  • Accountability and addressing workplace issues
  • How to run a great team meeting
  • Strategies for effective delegation – identifying team members’ strengths

Coaching and Other Support for LEADers

  • 10 hours of individualized coaching
  • Dynamic networking across organizations and missions, plus Alumni Network
  • Peer coaching and peer assist with classmates
  • Online library of LEAD resources and materials
  • Encouragement and investment in LEADers’ success

LEAD is precisely the program that community-based organizations should offer to enable local organizations and their leaders to have a greater impact…It’s been an honor to be part of this group, and I’ve learned much more than I had hoped to.” Taylor Honrath, Elkhorn Slough Foundation

Seminar Dates & Time Commitment

LEADers commit to ten intensive, day-long, in-person monthly seminars at Harden Foundation in Salinas from February to December 2024. LEADers should expect to devote 2-3 additional hours each month for coaching, reflection, and self-directed preparatory work for LEAD.

LEAD 2024 Dates 

Attendance at seminars is essential. Successful completion of sessions and assignments by December 2024 and the ability to demonstrate integration of content areas in professional life and leadership qualify you for a LEAD Certificate of Completion.

February 9, 2024

March 8

April 12

May 10

June 14

July 12

August 9

September 13

October 11

November 8

December 13 Graduation


Apply to LEAD

Apply Online2024 LEAD applications are now closed. Check back in August 2024 for future opportunities.

We recommend you discuss your goals and the commitment required to attend LEAD with your direct supervisor and/or affiliated community organizations. Nonprofits based in Santa Cruz, Monterey or San Benito Counties are eligible. LEAD Institute will accept one applicant per organization.

Application and Selection Criteria

Successful candidates demonstrate:

  • Integrity, critical thinking, and a commitment to life-long learning 
  • Interest in taking on greater leadership in the next 18 months 
  • Support from their organization or community group 
  • Experience supervising others or the desire to gain management skills 
  • Investment in community 

Tuition and Partial Scholarships

We are committed to working with all accepted applicants and their organizations to coordinate tuition funding.

Organization Budget Size LEAD Tuition
All-volunteer organizations $1,000
< $500,000 $1,500
$500-999,999 $1,800
$1M-$5M $2,100
>$5M $2,400

The Community Foundation for Monterey County understands the unique financial circumstances of each LEAD participant and nonprofit organization. We encourage all who could benefit from LEAD Institute to apply. Tuition is sliding-scale and need-based scholarships are available. LEAD Institute will accept one applicant per organization. 


LEAD Participants and Alumni

LEAD Institute is an opportunity to engage with a dynamic and inspiring network of alumni in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. 

 Activities help alumni to stay connected, continue learning, and renew energy for leadership growth. 

 Recent alumni activities include: reunions by class, professional development and peer coaching. 

LEAD AlumThe new tools and support network of other leaders helps me feel consistently hopeful even through challenging times. – Mireya Gomez-Contreras, Arts Council of Santa Cruz County

2024 LEAD Institute Participants

Monterey County Participants:

  • A. Augusto Rivera-Gutierrez, Director of Development & Compliance, YWCA Monterey County
  • Alisa Smith, Philanthropic Services Officer, Community Foundation for Monterey County
  • Azucena Barrios, Education Lead Organizer, Building Healthy Communities of Monterey County
  • Eric Mora, President, Salinas Valley Pride Celebrations
  • Erika Matadamas, Chief Advancement Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County
  • Francesca Marietti, Advocate Supervisor/ Transitional Age Youth Specialist, CASA of Monterey County
  • Jamelle Jones, Program Coordinator, The Village Project Inc.
  • Julia Echenique, Executive Director, Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum
  • Kari Martorella, Home Delivered Meals Manager, Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula
  • Kayshla Lopez, Homeless Services Manager, City of Salinas
  • Marissa Serna, Program Director, Youth Arts Collective
  • Maya Sedillo, Administrator, Healing and Reconciliation Institute
  • Noa Daniels, Executive Director, Access Media Productions
  • Richelle Santoya, Executive Director, Epicenter of Monterey
  • Ritika Kumar, Founder/ CEO, Art Abilities
  • Rosa Torres, Housing Operations Manager, Interim, Inc.

San Benito County Participant:

  • Bertha Perez, Program Manager, Youth Alliance

Santa Cruz County Participants:

  • Abby Newman, Program Manager, O’Neill Sea Odyssey
  • Evyn Robles, Director of Campus and Housing, Housing Matters
  • Marlo Botello-Aepli, Executive Director, UnChained
  • Micha Scott, Executive and Artistic Director, Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center (TWDCC)

Monterey County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • 2nd Chance Family and Youth Services (Laura Tinajero)
  • Access Support Network (Daniela Mejia & Paris De La Rosa)
  • Ag Land Trust (Virginia Jameson)
  • ALBA (Andrea Tinajero)
  • Alliance on Aging (Jody Rogers)
  • Alisal Center for the Fine Arts (Javier Tamayo, Willow Aray & Juan Carlos Gonzalez)
  • ARIEL Theatrical (Samantha Barnes)
  • Arts Council for Monterey County (Berniz House, Erin Lyman)
  • Building Healthy Communities – East Salinas (Carmen Gil)
  • California Breastfeeding Coalition (Robbie Gonzalez-Dow)
  • Camp SEA Lab (Amity Wood)
  • The Carmel Foundation (Aimee Cuda, Kimberly Willison)
  • CASA of Monterey County (Teressa Jimenez & Maria Perez-Zamora)
  • Center for Community Advocacy (Natalie Herendeen)
  • Central Coast Center for Independent Living (Maria Magaña)
  • Central Coast HIV/AIDS Services (Katie Murphy)
  • Central Coast YMCA: South County Branch (Leti Bocanegra)
  • CHISPA (Jonathan Bohorquez, Ruth Rodriguez)
  • CSUMB (Rene Casas)
  • Coalition of Homeless Services Providers (Jocelyn Brady & Genevieve Lucas-Conwell)
  • Community Foundation for Monterey County (Aurelio Salazar, Jr.)
  • Community Homeless Solutions (Priscilla Ortega)
  • Community Human Services (Jennifer Hazen, Lenina Sanchez, Rob Rapp & Valerie Catania)
  • Community Partnership for Youth (Benjamin Bruce & Jorge Torres)
  • Door to Hope (Denise Felix, Patterson Emesibe)
  • Elkhorn Slough Foundation (Taylor Honrath)
  • Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (May Nguyen & Vicente Lara)
  • Everyone’s Harvest (Iris Diana Jehle-Peppard)
  • Family Connections – MPUSD/First 5 (Jan Phillips Paulsen)
  • First 5 Monterey County (David Dobrowski)
  • First Methodist Church in Salinas (Cindy Storrs)
  • Food Bank for Monterey County (Melissa Hartman)
  • Gateway Center (Amy Wright)
  • Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast (Gina Silva)
  • Goodwill Central Coast (Richard Cheatham)
  • Greenfield Community Science Workshop (José Sánchez)
  • Hartnell College Foundation (Priscilla Amao)
  • HOPE Services (Greg Dinsmore)
  • Housing Resource Center of Monterey County (Alexa Johnson, Jennifer Rego)
  • Independent Transportation Network Monterey County (Cheryl Tsuchiura)
  • INTERIM, INC (Victoria Jimenez, Sandra Peña, Idalia Matthews, Alejandro Amezcua, Carolina Cortez, Christina Barnes, Carmen Torres, Lara Stahl, Lisa Corpuz, Judith Gonzalez, Maritza Allen & Manuel Hernandez)
  • iResult, LLC (Niña Magsaysay Rosete)
  • Legal Services for Seniors (Philip M. Geiger)
  • The Literacy Campaign for Monterey County (M. Crystal Macias-Diaz)
  • Loaves Fishes & Computers, Inc. (Elizabeth Panetta & Jacqueline Leon)
  • Lyceum (Joyce Breckenridge)
  • Mandell Gisnet Center for Conflict Management (Isabel Bjork)
  • Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, Inc. (Claudia Aguilera)
  • MEarth (Juliet Pool)
  • MILPA Collective (Elias Gonzales)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium (Karin Stratton, Ava Ferguson & Ileana Ortega Brunetti, Jennifer Rigney)
  • Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust (Melissa Mahoney)
  • Monterey County Office of Education (Jennifer Suttie; Head Start and Early Head Start Isabel Valtierra)
  • Monterey County Rape Crisis Center (Nicole Irigoyen, Nina Alcaraz)
  • Monterey Peninsula Foundation (Hana Kong)
  • Natividad Foundation (Lisa Rico)
  • Osio Theater (Tommy Pieper, Brandi Lamb)
  • Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History (Ann Wasser)
  • The Parenting Connection of Monterey County (Jaimee De Pompeo)
  • Parents’ Place, Pacific Grove Adult School, PGUSD (Elizabeth Olney)
  • Partnership for Children (Jennifer Ramirez)
  • Peacock Acres (Nathan Jones)
  • Point Lobos Foundation (Anna Patterson)
  • Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, Inc. (Cecilia Romero, Trish Alcocer & Elizabeth Jimenez)
  • The Read to Me Project (Kirstin van Gend)
  • Restorative Justice Partners, Inc. (Jennie Burciaga)
  • Return of the Natives Restoration and Education Project (Emily Howard)
  • Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation (Sheri Massolo)
  • The Salvation Army, Service Extension (Amelia Gomez)
  • Shelter Outreach Plus (Leticia Bejarano)
  • Sol Treasures (Jeff Hinderscheid)
  • Soledad Unified School District (Cristina Sotelo)
  • Special Kids Crusade (Laura Harris)
  • Sun Street Centers (Chris Graveline, John Bokanovich, Marciano Huerta & Eddie Hathcock)
  • Turning Point of Central California (Pearl Sanchez)
  • United Way Monterey County (Clare Margason, Kate Mitchell Mehle & Mayra Perez)
  • Ventana Wilderness Alliance (Mike Chamberlain)
  • Veterans Transition Center of California (Tessa Wise)
  • The Village Project, Inc. (Stacie Andrews)
  • Volunteer Center (Gilda Estrada)
  • Youth Arts Collective (Jesse Juarez)
  • Youth Music Monterey County (Vanisha Evans Douvon)
  • Youth Orchestra Salinas (Michael Gomez)
  • YWCA Monterey County (Germaine Esquivel)

San Benito County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • BenitoLink (Laura Romero)
  • CASA of San Benito County (Esther Curtice)
  • Chamberlain’s Children Center, Inc. (Krystal Jones, Gracie Lucatero & Patrick Ellis)
  • Community Foundation for San Benito County (Salina Chacon & Raul Ceja)
  • Community Solutions (Vanessa Garcia)
  • Community Vision San Benito Co. (Colleen Johnson)
  • Emmaus House (Mary Lou Coffelt)
  • Live Like Geno Foundation (Tenille Ramirez)
  • Pinnacles Partnership (Rochelle Fischer)
  • San Benito County Farm Bureau (Mindy Sotelo)
  • United Way of San Benito (Vicki Fortino)
  • Youth Alliance (Rodrigo Jimenez, Zenedith Espinoza & Anthony Lopez)

Santa Cruz County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • Arts Council Santa Cruz County (Megan Searcy & Nabil Ghachem)
  • Break Away College Access Project (Carol Schimke)
  • Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (Jessica Frye)
  • Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. (Juan Luis Romero & Mireya Gomez-Contreras)
  • Community Restoration Project (Javier Diaz)
  • The Shelter Project (Norma Sanchez)
  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers (Kathryn Spencer)
  • Community Bridges
    • Beach Flats Community Center (Reyna Ruiz)
    • La Manzana Community Resources (­­­Gabriela López Chávez)
  • Creative Muse Collective (Terri Steinmann)
  • The Diversity Center for Santa Cruz County (Emilio Barajas)
  • Easter Seals Central California (Stephanie Flores & Stella Lauerman)
  • El Pajaro CDC (Amy Mascareñas)
  • Encompass Community Services (Maria Sanchez & Leigh Guerrero)
  • Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay (Beth Bowman)
  • Health Improvement Partnership (Haley Mears)
  • Homeless Garden Project (Darrie Ganzhorn)
  • Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services (Alexandra Dami)
  • Mesa Verde Gardens (Ana Rasmussen)
  • Monarch Services (Maria Barranco)
  • Museo Eduardo Carillo (Betsy Andersen)
  • Pajaro Valley Arts (Norma Villaron & Brianna Flores)
  • Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, Inc. (Silvia Diaz)
  • Positive Discipline Community Resources (Stephanie Baron Lu)
  • Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (Lea Haratani)
  • Salud Para La Gente (Laura Cuadros, Raphael Cendejas, Iliana Cuadros, Dail Vannerus, Michelle De Anda, Rosalba Contreras, Rachel Sandobal & Theresa Merendon)
  • Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (Helen Aldana, Diana Kapsner)
  • Save Our Shores (Ginaia Kelly)
  • Tandy Beal & Company (Jennifer Radakovich)
  • Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County
    • Community Connection (Ivan Meza, Maribel Alvarez, Mark Vasquez, Jodie Wells, Salina Nevarez & Uriel Mendoza)
  • Watsonville Film Festival (Consuelo Alba-Speyer)
  • Watsonville Science Workshop (Darren Gertler)
  • The Watsonville Law Center (Adriana Melgoza, Monica Pereira & Henry Martin)
  • Watsonville Volunteer Center (Blanca Carrillo)
  • Watsonville Wetlands Watch (Jonathan Pilch)
  • Women’s Crisis Support – Defensa de Mujeres (Lucila Sanchez)
  • YWCA of Watsonville (Kimberly Garcia Contreras, Emelia Leon)